By Marcus Leach

The Publishers Association has released its annual report of UK publishing sales statistics, and it shows that sales of digital books are up by 20%.

The growing popularity of digital readers such as Amazon's Kindle and ebook titles by authors including Stephen Fry and Stieg Larsson helped boost UK sales of digital book products by 20% to £180 million last year.

The Publishers Association, the trade body that represents companies that account for about 70% of the UK publishing market, said total sales — including digital products and physical books — increased by 2% year on year in 2010 to £3.1 billion.

These figures are in line with predictions that ebook sales will, within five years, outnumber those of printed books.

"Digital publishing is growing at an impressive rate in whichever part of the sector you choose to look," said the Publishers Association chief executive, Richard Mollet.

"Academic and professional publishing, which embraced digital platforms over a decade ago, continues to lead the field. But now that technology is putting ereading devices into consumers' hands, we are starting to see the rapid growth of digital sales in this area too, as consumer publishers develop digital formats to reach wider audiences."